The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie can only be described as a literary delight. Once again, Moriarty's epistolary format not only surprises, but stuns, in its genius. With this installment in the Ashbury/Brookfield Series, Moriarty follows the tale of Bindy Mackenzie, a top student whose life is slowly turning upside down. For starters, she's living with her aunt and uncle while her parents pursue their careers. For another, there's a strange new class called Friendship and Development (FAD) in which Bindy is stuck with the Venomous Seven. On top of all that, Bindy is forgetting her assignments, baby-sitting, sending frantic e-mails to her parents, and transcribing conversations she overhears. With so much crazy going on, there can be only one explanation for Bindy's change in behavior: she's being - slowly - murdered. Easily one of the highlights of this novel is friendship. When we first meet Bindy, she is quick to judge - instantly disliking the "Venomous Seven" in her FAD class - and goes out of her way to be rude. And yet, as the novel progresses, we begin to see Bindy's side of the situation; of her past and the small actions that have caused Bindy to slowly hate the majority of her classmates. As she works to win them back, though, the friendships formed are ones to look out for. Not only are they achingly realistic, but also heartfelt. Furthermore, it's impossible not to love Bindy. After all, this is the girl who is vying for her parents affections, who sends them long e-mails but never receives any responses. Moriarty manages to weave so much depth into this one piece, all while retaining her humor and light voice. Sadly, what really prevented me from giving this book a higher rating - despite the fact that I teared up during a scene or two and completely LOVED the growth arc of this novel - was the "murder" plot. We see this really emerge during the last third and while I cannot deny that it is brilliantly woven into the story, never taking away from the depth of the novel and only adding to its enjoyability, it did take away one thing from the novel that I particularly enjoyed. Bindy experiences what it's like to suddenly become so involved in what others think of her and redeem herself to her friends that she often pushes aside her school work. I feel as if this is a very natural direction for many teens to take and loved that Bindy's isolation from everything - even school, which she formerly excelled in - was a part of this novel. Thus, to have it explained away in the end was a bit of disappointment. Furthermore, I wanted more closure when it came to Bindy and her parents. I simply wish we could have seen a greater source of interaction between them. Nevertheless, this is a definite winner. I do think Feeling Sorry for Celia is a slightly stronger story overall - and I loved seeing Elizabeth re-appear in this novel and witnessing the direction her story arc took was enriching - but The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie is certainly a worthy piece of YA Fiction. One of the few out there. Bonuses: Mysteriously Missing Brothers, Unknown Nail Polish Senders, Creepy Babysitting Hirers, and...Murder?